What is Vehicle to Everything Communication Technology and How Will 5G Enable It?

May 23, 2017

Speakers in the trunk of a car
Editorial credit: ermess / Shutterstock.com

Since cars first started crowding the roads, engineers have been dreaming of how to make traffic move a bit faster. Mechanical engineers made individual cars speedier and more fuel efficient. Civil engineers studied traffic patterns and planned roads accordingly. Now it’s time for electrical and software engineers to get involved with vehicle to everything (V2X) technology. V2X will reduce traffic jams and make driving safer. The problem is, there’s currently no network that can support V2X. That issue will be solved with the advent of 5G which will truly enable V2X in the coming years. 5G’s low latency and high data rates will help bring about a faster, safer era of driving.

What is V2X?

So what exactly does V2X mean? You’ve probably heard of other “vehicle to”s. Things like vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle to vehicle (V2V). V2X encompasses all of the “V2”s. To expand on V2X, I’ll remind you of the functions of each of its constituent communication links.

  • Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) - V2I involves your car communicating with things like traffic lights and road work signs. This will give you information on their environment and on what lies ahead.

  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) - V2V establishes a link between two vehicles, allowing them to share sensor and planned route data.

  • Vehicle to Network (V2N) - V2N means cars will be able to communicate with the Internet. This will enable things like advanced navigation based on maps.

  • Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P) - V2P will allow vehicles and pedestrians to exchange information, hopefully limiting pedestrian accidents.

  • Vehicle to Device (V2D) - V2D will enable cars to exchange information with devices in general. This will include things like self-parking sensors in parking garages.

  • Vehicle to Grid (V2G) - V2G can help with power planning as electric cars can tell the grid about their current and projected power needs.

V2X will have to do all of the above, and certainly more. It will do all of this to achieve better traffic efficiency and to increase car safety.

Traffic monitoring system
Future vehicle to everything communication technology.

Advantages of V2X

V2X has a variety of fantastic advantages that will make trips in the car safer and faster.

  • Collective Sensing - Current and near future cars with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are essentially self-contained. They use onboard systems to make decisions about their path and safety. Once V2X comes into play cars will be able to use sensor data from outside devices and cars. We’re talking mass multiple sensor fusion. They will be able to peek at the car at the front of a column’s radar and see if there’s anything coming up far ahead. V2X will allow cars to access sensor data from traffic lights and roads to see which route will be the least congested. Collective sensing will greatly improve safety because the car can rely on an entire ecosystem of sensors instead of a few onboard ones.

  • Group Control - You know how NASCAR drivers draft behind other cars to increase their speed and fuel efficiency? V2X can give ADAS cars the ability to do pull off these kinds of maneuvers. Cars can send their accelerometer data to one another nearly instantly, which will be more accurate and faster than using incoming sensor data. Everyone has imagined each car moving forward at the exact moment that a light turns green. V2X will enable that kind of group coordination.

  • Path Sharing - With V2X, cars will be able to share their intended paths with other cars. This will greatly reduce accidents, as you won’t have to guess where that car behind you is going. Your car will already know where all cars on the road are moving and can avoid any collisions.

  • Better Navigation - The V2I and V2N features will greatly improve vehicle navigation. V2N will allow cars to instantly access maps of their area, and V2I will give them information on the path ahead. Is there a wreck up ahead? A traffic jam going into the city? V2X will allow your car to know these things and change its route accordingly.

These are not the only great things that V2X will bring about, just some of the ones that stand out. Now, how do we get to a future with V2X?

racing cars
This is the future of highways. Editorial credit: Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

How 5G Enables V2X

We have 4G/LTE, NFC, and other communication protocols that could make this kind of system possible right? Not exactly. Current networks lack the latency and bandwidth that V2X will require. 5G will provide that timing and throughput, all on our existing infrastructure.

  • Latency - Latencies for our fastest cell networks were around 70 ms in 2014. That may seem pretty fast, but it’s not fast enough for V2X networks. If cars are traveling in a group at 1 m distances, they’ll need kinetic data nearly instantaneously (~10 ms). 5G networks will use a wider band of the electromagnetic spectrum than current networks. This will allow them to achieve latencies of less than 10 ms. Low latencies make 5G perfect for V2X.

  • Bandwidth - High data rates are not necessarily a requirement for V2X, but they will make it much better. With high enough data rates cars will be able to transmit and receive things like live video feeds from other cars and traffic monitoring devices. 5G is expected to achieve data rates of up to 10 gps, more than enough to enable advanced V2X systems.

  • Cost - Cost may not be a concern for the average consumer, but it is for the people building these systems. Building a new network to cover most of the roads in a country would be prohibitively expensive. Luckily, 5G networks will be built on existing infrastructure, making them much cheaper.

V2X networks will allow future cars to communicate with almost everything connected to the same network. This will make driving safer and faster with things like collective sensing and better navigation. The only problem is, we have to wait. Once 5G is implemented, V2X systems can take advantage of its low latencies and high throughput to make the future a reality.

So, now that you understand the future of vehicular communication, you’re ready to write the software that will control it. However, there will be speed bumps in the road ahead. You’ll need to master things like static analysis for memory protection units and debug with speed. Luckily, TASKING has created a wide range of tools that will put developers like you in the driver’s seat.

Have more questions about V2X? Call an expert at TASKING.

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